Does incidental sequence learning allow us to better manage upcoming conflicting events?

  • Luis JiménezEmail author
  • Elger Abrahamse
  • Cástor Méndez
  • Senne Braem
Original Article


Recent proposals emphasize the role of learning in empirical markers of conflict adaptation. Some of these proposals are rooted in the assumption that contingency learning works not only on stimulus–response events but also on covert processes such as selective attention. In the present study, we explored how these learning processes may apply to trial-to-trial modulations of selective attention, mirroring the sequential nature of congruency sequence effects. Two groups of participants performed a four-choice Stroop task in which the color to which they responded on each trial acted as a probabilistic predictor either of the external response to be emitted on the next trial, or the congruency level (and therefore control demands) on the next trial. The results showed clear effects of sequence learning for external responses, but no evidence of learning about sequential stimulus–conflict associations. The implications of these results are discussed in relation to other learning-based phenomena of conflict adaptation and suggest that learning of stimulus–control associations is strongly constrained by event boundaries.



The present research was funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad with a research Grant to Luis Jiménez (PSI2015-70990-P).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad de Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and LanguageBilbaoSpain
  3. 3.IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for ScienceBilbaoSpain
  4. 4.Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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